Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Brilliance of The Great Gatsby

The critics have not been kind but they are wrong. The Great Gatsby shimmers on the screen. The film does what Fitzgerald did; it takes us in the eye of the metaphor and jumps into it and then does what any art does...exaggerates. Take the green light. Perfect. Of course we build around that visionary beam of the American Dream. It is nothing less than Gatsby's soul and in the movie the green light beams and beams like a laser strobe across the bay from Daisy's dock. It is the coalescence of the Fitzgerald novel...the magnet that catches all the metal filings. And we open and close with that green vision of hope... but lets move on.

The flowing billowy curtains that takes Fitzgerald's prose and puts it into form. The eloquence of that metaphor is the women and the room are all floating around the ceiling and when Tom Buchanan shuts the door he shuts it all down and everyone floats back down...the effortless ether of the rich against the hard malice of Tom. And then of course the parties that seem to bother everyone. Have you never partied? Maureen Dowd of NY Times and others just couldn't get around the fact that these parties were over the top  and fantastical. Did we ever live through the first twentieth century boom before income tax? During prohibition? And of course the original prose was over the top. When Fitzgerald describes the party it is the top of the top doing what they do best.

And then of course the driving. The crazy driving and Gatsby's car which is described as a leather conservatory in the novel and an amazing yellow car nickel plated and swollen with hat boxes and fenders and curves and so we create Gatsby's car and the way he drives and the way everyone drives in the roaring twenties. And could the party in Toms apartment been any more than the drunken bacchanal of sex, jazz,  and booze that was the twenties?  And then we go on to the showdown at the Plaza and Gatsby cracking up against Toms hard malice. And what is amazing is the film stayed on Fitzgerald's metaphors and prose giving way to the book by putting the actual words on the screen and yes the use of Nick Caraway as the writer might have bothered some but it did anchor us in time and yes the relationship between Nick and Jordan Baker was lost but a small point for finally taking on the  love story of Jay Gatsby and Daisy and giving the story its markers as the last will and testament to the American Dream.

I was all set to hate this film. In fact I never believed the novel could be brought to life on the screen but the movie brought to life the story and tipped its hat to the prose all along the way. The brilliance of the movie is that it made brilliant Fitzgerald's prose....a film of metaphors and for someone to pull that off in the year 2013 and bring high brow entertainment to the masses...I'll drink a highball to that any day and say with Jay Gatsby in his pink suit...
Cant repeat the past!...of course you can old sport!

Rocket Man...the upside down American Dream

Books by William Hazelgrove